Reflections on history: Thomas Cromwell; Debating on a post…. procrastinating on a post… Writing a post

Reflections on history: Thomas Cromwell; Debating on a post…. procrastinating on a post… Writing a post

I’m sitting here debating what I want to write about – or rather debating on how I will present it. And so, I am procrastinating, as I always have over the years. On a status note on my facebook page, I noted that I have just enough ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) to have trouble concentrating, and just enough OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) to concentrate on the wrong things when I finally do concentrate on something. I don’t think I’m picking the wrong subject this time, but I had so many directions I wanted to go in…. and it hadn’t seemed at first that Thomas would win on this round. I mean after all: tomorrow is Easter, it should be a reflection on my faith or a reflection on hymns, or something really holy. I’ve decided, though, that I want to write about Thomas Cromwell; even though he can be [at the very least] partially blamed for destroying the Catholic way of life in 16th century England. To give Master Cromwell credit (as of April 19, 1540, the Earl of Essex… a peer, no longer just a commoner), he did have an evident intention to clean up the corruption that had built up over the centuries in England – as will happen with ANY religious organization that doesn’t cleanse itself periodically. He wanted the English people to be able to read the Bible in English – that was a major project and dream of his and Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. It is little short of a miracle that he managed that while having to deal with the monarch he worked for – Henry VIII. Henry’s only interest in “reform” was to get rid of his first wife in hopes that his second wife would give him a legitimate male heir, and get the money that the monasteries had in their pockets. Henry didn’t care why the monies had been in their pockets – he just wanted to make sure that they ended up in his. Here’s where I struggle with my fondness for Thomas Cromwell (well: beyond the fact that I have a bit of a crush on a man who lived more than 500 years ago… and I still don’t like his “dark side”): did he help Henry VIII send Anne Boleyn and 4 or 5 innocent men (and that doesn’t even count Thomas More, John Fisher, countless monks, etc.) to death, just to help make Henry happy, and just to get money into the English treasury? And if it was also intended to keep open the chances for Reform of the church, was it worth the almost casual slaughter of so many people? Yet, Thomas More, himself, as Chancellor (after Wolsey was removed from that position), had been a determined hunter of heretics, and seemed to have had no problem with the burning of those he considered heretics. Thomas Cromwell was often accused of helping “heretics” escape the fire. It was even brought up at his trial (but then so was the accusation that he was amassing men to make Lady/Princess Mary his wife and take over the country – one of the more laughable accusations, or would have been if it hadn’t been so pathetic a lie); but there is some hint of independent confirmation about his trying to protect those of protestant persuasion.
So why am I so fond of Thomas Cromwell? Because he’s an example of many who seek the light of Jesus, despite all the baggage one carries from one’s culture. John Foxe hailed him as a Protestant hero – but then John Foxe tended to get carried away when turning his subjects into role models. I doubt that Thomas Cromwell (“Crum” as Henry VIII called him as a nickname) would have recognized himself as the sanctified model that Foxe turned him into. Cromwell himself admitted that he had been a bit of a ruffian in his youth — and I doubt the ruffian ever completely left him:-) It’s one of the things I like about the man: he stayed relatively humble despite the exalted position he ended up attaining…. He didn’t seem to be afraid to acknowledge his own failings (unlike his monarch). I like that kind of person. Someone who seeks after something better, while being unafraid of who he is as a person. It’s up to God to judge Thomas Cromwell now, but if “Crum” was indeed seeking to obey Jesus above all, I consider him a believer and a fellow member of the “cloud of believers” who follows the Risen Christ.